Monday, 8 October 2007

Lorelei's Secret - Carolyn Parkhurst

"A shimmering fictional portrait of love and loss" Scotsman

"Here is what we know, those of us who can speak to tell a story: On the afternoon of October 24th, my wife Lexy Ransome, climbed to the top of the apple tree in our backyard and fell to her death. There were no witnesses save our dog Lorelei..."
From their first date, Lexy swept Paul Iverson off his feet and brought passion and adventure to his previously stable existence. Unable to accept that her death was an accident, Paul sets out to divine Lorelei's secret and, in doing so, he learns things about his wife that he could never have imagined.

This book is stunning, it completley captivated me up until the very last page. Published in America as The Dogs Of Babel, is not only a study of grief and loss, but also a tender and compelling love story.
Linguist, Paul begins to find certain "anomalies" concerning Lexy's death, which lead him to believe that his wife had commited suicide. She had begun to reorganize their bookshelves and Paul believes she has tried to leave him a message somehow, yet he cannot work out what that message might be. He is also confused by the fact that Lexy had cooked Lorelei a twenty pound steak they had planned to barbeque that evening. The only way he can solve the mystery, is to have Lorelei tell him what happened, therefore he must teach her to talk.
Lexy's character is revealed in a series of Paul's memories of her, and she is suprisingly complex. Her fits of sudden, inexplicable rage and destructiveness hint at some deep emotional damge, but Parkhurst does not tell us what. I liked this, it lent a further air of mystery into the connundrum that was Lexy. Her black spells are in sharp contrast to the spontaneous, creative, fun-loving woman Paul falls in love with. I loved the part where they wear masks of the other's face. Their relationship is a delight to read about, and Parkhurst really makes the reader care about both of them.
Lexy has a fascination with Tam Lin, and tells Paul her favourite part, "Had I known but yesterday what I know today, I'd have taken out your two gray eyes and put in eyes of clay. And had I known but yesterday you'd be no more my own, I'd have taken out your heart of flesh and put in one of stone".
This extract proves to be very significant, and makes for extremely moving reading.
Paul's attempts to teach Lorelei to talk provide a lot of humour, but also have a dark side. His colleagues think he is crazy, and he is a little, crazy with grief.
As always, I won't give away the ending, but I can say that it is intensely sad and I cried. A lot.

"Prepare to have your heart smashed into melancholy pieces" Elle

No comments: